Monday, October 22, 2007

To Phone or Not to Phone?

Today I received the following email: “I read that waiting for guests to arrive is unpleasant for you. So why not provide guests with a number they can contact you on and request that they do so if they will be later than planned? I looked on the website, without success, to find a contact number before we left home. We emailed you our estimated arrival time and included a cell phone number so you could call us instead if there was a 'problem'. We could not anticipate exact traveling time from Boston as we were strangers to the region (we were also held up in a traffic jam). Consider it is also restricting for the paying guest to feel they have an itinerary to stick to on their holiday. So perhaps a contact phone number could easily solve this?”

Writing a blog about what it is like to run a B&B, I try to include both the advantages and disadvantages of the innkeeping profession. One of the distinct disadvantages is the fact that guests do not always know when they will arrive, indeed. I try to schedule errands and doctors’ appointments at times when I am not serving breakfast, preparing for guests, or receiving guests. This is why I appreciate an approximate arrival time.

Recent guests expected to get here at 8 or 9 p.m. They were good enough to call and tell me they were running late, having encountered rain and traffic on the drive up from New York City. If folks have to arrive after 9:30 p.m., I am willing to leave the door open. I did not especially appreciate the phone call for directions at midnight, since I was asleep, but accepted the inconvenience as a rare occurrence. Earlier, they, too, had commented, by phone, on the absence of a phone number on our Web site. Most people reserve by email and arrive in mid-afternoon or early evening. I do not list our phone number to reduce the number of phone calls we receive. In August, the phone already rings every hour or so. I will, however, now provide the phone number with every confirmation email, and appreciate the feedback on this issue.